The Italian Job Review

The Italian Job is one of those movies that you are unlikely to have heard of despite being familiar with the heist genre. It even has some big actors but I still don’t remember it making any headlines. I guess it probably just came out at a tough year. Still, it’s a pretty solid film that may not be amazing but manages to avoid making any really serious mistakes which is important.

The film starts with a group of burgers pulling off a pretty big heist where they had to race the cops in a boat and got to walk away with millions. Unfortunately just as one of the characters was finally going to retire, the group was betrayed by Steve who decided to keep the money for himself. He shots the best crook, drowns the others, and then runs off. Years have passed and now the burglars want their revenge and also hope to secure the money in the process. They managed to survive with their wit and have stayed under the radar for a long time. It has all been for this one moment but to make sure that this mission is a success they will need to bring in a secret weapon, the daughter of the dead burglar.

You will have to turn your suspension of disbelief on full blast right away here as the plans are so detailed and convoluted that you probably won’t be able to accept what is happening with a straight face otherwise. In the climax of the film the villain gets a helicopter and even a private militia as he drives through town but the main character, Charlie is able to hold his own on a quick motorcycle. His team of quirky hackers seem more than capable of taking any villain down after this film.

Where the film really did a good job was with the fast moving plot. A lot of things were always happening. The talking scenes are pretty engaging and I do tend to enjoy the planning. The execution is also on point and it’s just a solid film from start to finish. The ending was also really good. One thing that tends to happen in a film like this is that the heroes will win it, but the villains end up destroying all of the informants along the way thereby preventing anyone else from ever replicating the feat. I was worried for “Tiny” or “Slim” (I forgot which one was his name) when the villains showed up at his door. Fortunately it turned out all right for the guy and in the end everything worked out. It’s also rare for a villain to not get away with murdering random Jim #34 but in this case it’s one of the main things that comes back to bite him. Turns out that this guy was friends with the mafia and you don’t mess with those guys.

The cast of characters was also surprisingly good which is always important. Charlie is a great tactician which is shown from the start. He may not be infallible but is able to adjust his plan at a second’s notice to fix any oversights. Even by the end he was one step ahead of Steve and never found himself at the back. Steve is also pretty solid as he always talks with a lot of confidence and has a smug air about him. Definitely not a guy who gives up easy and even if he isn’t as smart as the main character he isn’t half bad at making plans. Against someone else he may have stood a chance. Of course, he definitely should have sold the gold by the time the heroes found him though and shooting the merchant just delayed this even further. Not the smartest villain around even if he is fun.

Stella is solid as well. Initially I forgot about her first appearance and for a second thought that the film was bringing in a new character. The opening does certainly make more sense in light of this. Unfortunately, her character is used for fanservice quite a bit as we have the unfortunate trope of someone walking into her room while she is still getting changed. Likewise, Stella’s entire first scene seems to be focused on her attire more than the actual dialogue. Once we get past these moments this fortunately stops happening. Stella is a solid locksmith even if she is not quite at the same level as her father yet. She can also drive with the best of them. I think her character could have been handled better but overall she was a good character.

Another one of the thieves was the Napster. This guy spends most of his time complaining about how Steve stole his inventions. He takes this the least seriously compared to the rest of the team and nearly blows there cover several times by pulling pranks on the cops and the government. So much for being discreet right? I suppose he has his own priorities so you can’t really argue with that. He’s definitely a pretty bad character though. There is also Gilligan who does his best to mess up everyone’s chances as well. When it comes time to broker a deal with someone who has the supplies they need, he can’t help but stare at the guy constantly even when he is told not too. Actually, as far as the great character cast maybe I should be more specific. Steve, Charlie, Stella, and the father from the very beginning are solid characters. Everyone else definitely has a lot of room for improvement if you ask me. Still, since the characters with the most screen time are at the top that’s what counts.

We also get a long car chase scene that I referenced earlier and works well as the climax. Who doesn’t like a good car chase right? After a while they may all start to seem like the same race if you watch enough films, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they work quite well as a satisfying way to end the film. It’s not as if we could have had a real hand to hand fight at the end as you would have then had to ask where they learned how to fight. A battle of two self taught fighters could be fun, but I don’t believe Steve ever would have bothered learning how to fight while Charlie showed earlier that he could throw a good punch.

Overall, The Italian Job is a pretty fun heist film. The pacing is always on point and the characters make for some pretty enjoyable banter. Some of the plans may seem like a stretch at times but that goes hand in hand with the genre. If you like watching a game of mental chess going on with plans and counter plans then I’d recommend checking this film out. It’ll keep you entertained the whole way through and never really make any mistake big enough to get you out of the action. It’s satisfied with just being an entertaining film and that’s a pretty solid approach if you ask me.

Overall 7/10


Sword Art Online Calibur Review

As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10

Captain America: Super Soldier Review

It’s time to take a look at one of the final Superhero titles that I had yet to play in the modern era. A character like Captain America certainly comes with a unique fighting style and one that the game handled well. I didn’t expect to find it for around 5 dollars at Gamestop, but it just goes to show that you never know what kind of gem you’ll find there. As a loyal Gamestop supporter I must urge you to go there, but don’t get conned into going for Elite Reward Status unless you seriously shop there a lot or desperately want the Buy 2 Get 1 Free coupon.

The plot of the game is that Captain America has infiltrated another Hydra base. At this location, Zola is experimenting to create his own version of the super soldier serum and if he succeeds then it could turn the tide of the whole war. Cap has to stop this weapon at all costs, but he can’t do it alone. That’s where the Invaders come in. They’ve got heavy artillery backing then up so maybe, just maybe the heroes have a chance.

At its core this game is a classic 3D brawler like most of the other superheroes. You will do some platforming as you jump from place to place but most of the time you will be beating up on Hydra agents. The platforming is also pretty easy because your jumps automatically link to where you will want to go and an arrow will show if you can make it or not. If you fall anyway then you simply were not paying attention. If you’ve played pretty much any 3D game like this then you should also be prepared to break some switches and handle miscellaneous tasks.

Now the combat is where the game gets a little more creative. This is Captain America after all, you will be going in expecting to use his shield quite a bit right? Well the game doesn’t disappoint. You can throw the shield around to stun multiple enemies. The more you upgrade the shield skill, the more enemies you can target at once. It’s really handy for when you’re surrounded. Of course, sometimes you want to test your mettle in close range combat and that is always a viable option. When fighting off enemies with your fists you can feel the satisfying sound effect behind each blow. Furthermore, your reaction times are important here as you will have to press the Z button when you are about to be attacked to parry the hit and keep on beating them down. The timing isn’t quite as strict as in some other games and it is hard to miss the visual cue. As a result, you can basically fight off armies by the end of the game and it feels awesome. You can be surrounded and then begin delivering your haymakers until the fight is over. The fight style the game uses is very cinematic which lines up well with the films. You won’t even notice the Wii Remote much since you are focusing on just hitting everything. The motion controls only come into play when you start throwing your shield around, but time slows to a crawl at this point so that compensates for the extra time it takes to move the shield around. You will likely still get tagged once or twice in Cap Mode since when you’re surrounded even slowing down time isn’t always enough. To prevent the game from getting too easy, berserk enemies don’t trigger your Cap Sense so you can’t parry them and the same goes for all of the villains with guns.

Unfortunately the graphics aren’t great. It’s not so much the effects or the backgrounds, but it is the character models that just don’t seem right. Captain America’s proportions just don’t seem right. His top half is just too huge and the rest of him looks too small. I guess maybe he just skipped leg day. One good thing about this style though is that it lets the game go all out with giving us mini cutscenes here and there. The scene where a minion shows up and grabs the shield was pretty hype. He quickly learned that I was still more than a match for him though. The music wasn’t especially memorable or anything like that but I did like the main menu theme. It was a nice rock theme that got you hyped for what the game was about to bring in.

There are 9 levels in the game with the average length being about 20 minutes per level. The game isn’t all that long as a result, but it didn’t feel too short either. It’s a fairly standard length for a movie tie-in which admittedly isn’t saying much. You can get the game for a few dollars though so the price helps to counter this. There is a little replay value to be found here as you can go back to the levels and try to grab the collectibles to unlock some more costumes. Not a great incentive for me, but it’s definitely better than nothing. At the end of the day, this is a very basic game with no extra frills. The main campaign has to be enough to sell you on the product and it worked well enough for me.

Overall, Captain America is a pretty fun superhero title. It may not be as high budget as you’d like, but does a good job of depicting what you would expect from Cap’s fighting style into a great gameplay experience. Throwing around the shield just feels right and can really be used to extend combos. Naturally, bouncing it off walls and such won’t work quite like in the movies, but Sega did a good job all things considered. This is a considerable step up from the recent Batman game that I played and I can certainly recommend checking it out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Overall 7/10

Sonic Boom Review

The first time I started watching Sonic Boom I knew that I had a winner on my hands. The series is the perfect blend of action and comedy. Due in part to the solid animation and naturally the strong writing as well, Sonic Boom is one of those all star titles that is not to be trifled with. It’s rare to see a comedy centered show actually be really funny throughout as opposed to once in a while but Boom pulls it off.

The basic plot of the show is that a group of friends live on an island. Their names are Sonic, Amy, Sticks, Tails, and Knuckles. This town is fairly isolated so the friends have to try and not get tired of each other or the fact that there is only one eatery in the entire town. They just have to learn to live the sub par food. Meanwhile, we also can’t forget about the evil Dr. Eggman who uses his evil inventions to try and conquer the town or sometimes to fight off tax corruption. One thing is for sure, there is always something happening in this show.

Sonic Boom may be a CGI show but the animation is so smooth and colorful that it is basically on the level of hand drawn animation. The character designs are really on point. At first people did make fun of some of the designs like Knuckles and Sonic but you quickly get used to them. The bright animation works well for the action scenes as well as the back and forth banter. It’s very versatile. Then there is also the solid soundtrack. It’s quite large as some episodes will have guest star montage themes. The normal everyday themes work well too and one of the big ones is the theme that plays when Sonic fights Shadow for the last time. It will keep you guessing throughout the show and that’s the sign of a good soundtrack.

The writing is certainly 5 Star material as the jokes just work so well. Part of it is the delivery of course, but you also have to give credit to the script for coming up with the jokes. In particular Sonic and Knuckles tend to get all of the best ones although every character has their moment. Eggman naturally gets a lot of time to shine as well with all of the banter between him and Sonic.

One thing you’ll also notice about Sonic Boom is that the show can get serious when necessary. Not all of the serious arcs may have always worked out, but for the most part they were pretty hype. The final two part event for the series certainly brought in the hype as Shadow’s battle with Sonic was as good as it gets. We haven’t had many battles with the two characters so it was cool to see them go at it. Shadow certainly had the edge in the fight which certainly makes sense since his speed is comparable to Sonic’s plus he has his chaos abilities like teleportation. It was fortunate for Sonic that Metal Sonic showed up and that fight was certainly epic as well. He was really doing pretty well against both of the hedgehogs even though he was outnumbered. The best part of the episode was still the early part though as Shadow’s takedown of the main cast was particularly brutal and showed him to be a legitimate threat. He did have a rather similar role in both seasons, but because his screen time was rather rare and limited it never actually felt redundant.

All right, let’s look at the cast. Sonic is essentially the perfect lead as he acts just like his hand counterpart, but dialed up to 11. This let him bring in a lot of snappy dialogue while still wrecking everyone when it came time for combat. This is definitely the Sonic that I remember from the games and his character is really done Justice. Whenever he faces off with someone you basically know that he is going to come out on top. Occasionally he will even subvert whatever the message of the episode was on account of being so talented. That just goes to show his skilled he is. He also does a good job of insulting everyone without being all that mean about it. He just tells it like it is and manages to look cool while doing so.

Knuckles certainly isn’t a very smart character and the show makes this as extreme as possible. Such an exaggerated character would certainly be either a big hit or a disaster and fortunately this portrayal was spot on. I think what really sells the character is how absolutely confident he is of being right. If someone tries to correct him Knuckles will typically put on a smug expression and explain why they are wrong. He has delusions of grandeur and at times he has gotten so big into his own ego that he ends up forgetting his bonds with the others. Knuckles is a nice guy, but one who just can’t cope too well with being the head honcho. He is still the power hitter of the team as well so you want to have Knuckles on your team.
For Tails, it’s an interesting case because rather than simply play up the genius angle, they play up the “genius wannabe” card. He is consistently shown to not be as smart as Eggman in this version and his inventions have to be fixed many times. Still, he does send up saving the day a lot through his inventions as well so it basically cancels out. Tails is a good character and he also has a bit of a rivalry with Sonic at times which is pretty fun. Sonic tends to come out on top, but the same can basically be said for all of his rivalries in the show (except Shadow) so that’s not bad. Tails’ best invention was certainly the one that could make clones of the individual. That’s a useful piece of tech for any situation.

Amy has her girl power sticker on for the show and loves to remind Sonic that not all problems have to be responded to with violence. Although, she is typically the one to jump into a fight. Her split personality is played up a lot in the show and makes her a character that can be feared by others aides. You just don’t want to make her angry. Her part time job as a psychiatrist also makes for a lot of entertaining scenes. She may be a little on the gullible side, but she is also the hero who gives the villains the benefit of the doubt more than the others which is surely a nice thing to do. Sonic never tends to buy into the villains actually having a change of heart in this show for better or worse.

Sticks was made up for Sonic Boom so it was always going to be interesting to see what route they took her. She is the big conspiracy nut of the series and spends a lot of her time yelling and trying to tell the cast what is actually happening. Her refusal to use technology does come in handy at times like when the villain tries to mind control everyone through the TV. Such tactics won’t work on Sticks. In a fight she does appear to be the weakest member but it’s not all about strength when you’re looking at a character. She’s definitely not one of the best members of the main cast, but she’s a reasonably solid member of the team:

Then we’ve got Eggman who is definitely a very important character in the series. He keeps everyone in check and seems to have a fairly formalized deal with Sonic that he will attack the town every week or so. They reference these plans quite a bit. Of course, a Eggman does sometimes switch things up if the town gets on his nerves. It’s not a great defense but if we’re being honest the town can be pretty annoying. They’ll try to cheat you out of money or cut out in line. Other townsfolk will try to guilt trip you into helping them and the mayor is absolutely corrupt. Some characters may just sit there and take it, but not Eggman. In all of these instances I am actually rooting for Eggman since he just seems to be in the right. It’s the town that really needs to change, not really Eggman.

Shadow only appears in 2 different stories but they are both quite good. He sounds intimidating for sure and just isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Especially when you consider how strong he is. Shadow may be a little gullible which is an unusual trait for the character and the only one that doesn’t work well, but he looks really good beyond that. His style of chaos control based combat is always fun to watch. As Sonic Boom surprisingly didn’t use guest stars all that often, it made their appearances even more special than usual.

Then we have Dave the Intern. Well, he has many jobs to be honest but he is most well known for his time over at Metburger where he sells fast food that isn’t healthy for you and the ingredients are also very suspect. He tends to get everyone’s order wrong and you run a risk whenever you go inside. So why do people eat there? Well, it’s the only food place in the small village. This is actually mentioned quite a few times and you wonder why the heroes would even live in such a village. There are probably quite a lot of fun theories about this, but I like to think that they are just trying to lay low for a little while. They don’t want to have to constantly be fighting so this was a way to get some r n r, but Eggman showing up definitely broke that plan. Dave is a really fun character thanks in large part to how his voice sounds. He clearly doesn’t want to be at the burger shop and has a lot of goals. Dave just isn’t particularly skilled enough to pull any of them off.

Another fairly big character in the show is Eggman’s twin brother robot from another dimension. His name is Morpho and his accent is certainly on point. I imagine that it must have taken a while to perfect it. He uses his shape changing abilities to great effect as he makes it hard for the heroes to trust each other. Eggman’s mother was also a quality character as she kept everyone in line. The supporting cast is just so great in this show and all of them get their due screen time. Even the old lady who is always losing her baby manages to be a solid character. There’s also a whole group of villains who work at the club house who are sort of like the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but the evil version.

For other guest stars, we’ve got Metal Sonic and Vector. It was a surprise to see Vector show up, but definitely a nice one. He’s not one of the coolest Sonic characters, but it was certainly about time that he got to be in something animated again. Metal Sonic was awesome as expected with his abilities still being top notch. Eggman’s lackeys Cubot and Orbot show up constantly and while their comedic moments don’t work quite as well as some of the others, they have their moments. It’s hard to totally be a bad character when you’re in this show. Even relatively weaker characters like the girl fox who showed up a bit and the old man who guilt trips everyone are more passable than they usually would be.

What really brings the humor home for Sonic Boom is how self aware it is with the characters and what is happening. When it pulls off homages to old sport films or classic moments in the Sonic franchise it works because the writers clearly know what they are referencing. Research was certainly being done on this show throughout. Superman is naturally referenced as well which is hype. Sadly the show did not last long enough for us to get to Super Sonic, but I like to think that the next season would have managed to squeeze that in at some point. There are so many more possibilities for episodes here.

In the end I’d definitely have to say that this is the best Sonic TV show. Sonic X isn’t far behind and then from there they all get rather close. I’d give the original Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon third, Adventures of Sonic 4th and then Underground would take a respectable last place finish. Sonic’s never really had a bad show before and that’s a credit to how good the franchise is. The original movie was excellent as well and hopefully the upcoming one will continue the trend.

Overall, Sonic Boom is an excellent show and one of the best non anime shows that I’ve seen in a long time. You could always expect high quality episodes from week to week. I’m still not a big fan of how many shows like to divide their episodes into 2 parts nowadays, but Boom pulls it off as well as it can. Hopefully it does get another season someday although its odds aren’t looking very great at the moment. I doubt the next Sonic show can surpass this one, but hopefully it is quite solid as well. So if you haven’t seen Sonic Boom yet, be sure to check it out asap.

Overall 8/10

Push Review

It’s time to look at the action film known as Push. It’s definitely a rather ambitious stand alone film as it introduces a lot of characters and plots. Most of which aren’t wrapped up by the end so the film was really hoping for a sequel. It’s a very interesting movie with all of the overpowered abilities everyone has, but one is that still makes its share of mistakes by the end.

The story is that back in the day Germany experimented on a bunch of people and ended up giving them all super powers. They managed to escape but now in the present the rest of the governments are intent on capturing them. The main character of this story is Nick, a guy with basic telekinetic abilities who seems to be a little out of his league as he can’t even move a few dice. He is visited by the agency and they basically threaten him before leaving. That’s when a little girl named Cassie shows up and tells him that it’s time to go and save her Mom. They’re going to be in for a tough fight so hopefully Nick can improve his abilities.

An important part of the world that I should mention is that there are people with many kinds of abilities. Think the mutants from X-Men. The intro gives special emphasis to 3 types which are focused on in the film. First are movers like Nick. They can create barriers, amp up their physical abilities and essentially push everything with a gesture like in Star Wars. Then there are pushers who can “push” false thoughts into other people. Their ability’s limit is quite high so they are likely the most dangerous of adversaries. Finally there are the Watchers who can see the future. They can even see whole years into the future at a time so that makes them tough to deal with. Of course, just because they can see the future doesn’t mean that they will be able to change it very easily. There are other types like Sniffers which can track you from anything you’ve touched and Shadowers who can prevent you from being tracked. There are likely hundreds of other variations but those are the important ones.

One thing I can applaud the film on is its fast pacing. Quite a lot happens over the course of this movie to the point where other films might have taken double the time. Once the main characters meet up at the apartment, the villains don’t let up in their attack. They keep going after the heroes. The opening fight with all of the fish tanks was a solid opener for showing off the villains’ abilities. It’s also annoying since Nick should be able to crush them since his abilities are much better but that’s why you should always train.

For a while, I thought the Chinese were working for the Agency, but in retrospect it makes sense that they aren’t. As part of the impressively long exposition dump at the beginning we learn that all of the governments are after the mutants. So, China and the Agency (U.S.) are naturally on opposing sides. Which, while the opening exposition was a little humorous in how long it was, it was also rather unnecessarily gritty and a poor way to start the film. I was certainly glad once it ended.

The film does have some issues with unnecessary violence like that though like the fish tank scene. It’s the main thing that holds back the first fight scene as it’s just distracting. The fish didn’t ask for this. The fight should have focused on Nick trying to evade the vocal blasts and by the end of the fight quickly learning how to parry a little which could have been used to show his slight improvement by the end. It would have also been a better way for him to escape.

A big part of the film is how both sides have someone who can see the future. As a result they tend to overthink things in order to outsmart the other. The heroes handle this moderately well, but the villains do not. They defeat and capture Nick multiple times but keep on sparing him because they claim that destroying him would doom them in the future. Cool theory, but at least tie him up. Part of the problem for the villains is that they see a glimpse of the future and immediately act instead of looking farther ahead. It’s likely due to the fact that their pre cog reads intentions which is slightly different from purely looking at the future. It still messes then up though. At the end of the day you have to just learn the limits of your pre cog.

The heroes come up with a good plan of stopping the ore cog by writing down what to do on a notepad and losing their memories but for obvious reasons that is still a pretty risky plan. They had to plan out everything perfectly as well but the directions didn’t seem too far fetched I suppose. Spinning around in a circle was also a good idea although opening your eyes afterwards defeats the entire purpose. It didn’t even buy time tbh so that was a futile attempt.

The climax is definitely the best part as the 3 factions meet up for a big battle. We get to see what the fighters can really do when they band together. By that, I mean that everyone takes turns destroying the poor guys with guns. The Agency’s second in command Victor was certainly the MVP when it comes to raw power. He basically takes down the whole army and defeats Nick multiple times. He’s my personal favorite character in the film. Victor is definitely a man of few words but one whose presence is felt the whole time. His abilities were fun to watch and he did the company proud. If he had just been able to finish off Nick a little sooner, then I think he would have been able to come out on top. Still, he came close.

Nick is a decent main character. His personality is fine, but his lack of actual ability is what holds him back. The scene where he is sucker punched and thrown into the back of a car is just disgraceful. You’ll almost want to start laughing at how absurd the whole thing is. He can’t even break out and has to wait for someone to open the door for him. He’s saved numerous times by everybody and if we ever get a sequel he better improve. You can have all the tough talk and personality in the world, but if you can’t win a fight then it’s all for nothing.

Cassie is a solid heroine. Her foresight abilities certainly come in handy many times. Her abilities aren’t too fine tuned yet as she is still just a kid, but still does pretty well for herself. She’s more eager to fight the villains than Nick and at least does have a good plan. She is certainly right in not trusting Kira considering that the latter is just off at times. Speaking of Kira, she was a little unnecessary to the film. Trying to shoot at the leads was rather random and she is ungrateful the whole time. She gives the film its token romance which is also poorly handled. Despite being another pusher, she still falls for telepathic abilities quite easily. I suppose she just wasn’t strong enough, but that’s hardly a good excuse. I imagine that she would be a better character in the sequel.

Henry is the main villain of the film. He’s certainly a pretty tough fighter thanks to his telepathy. He does get off easily by invoking the whole future card like everyone else in the film. Otherwise, most of the characters could beat him since his ability takes a little time to actually get set up. As Nick points out, there’s no way he can take over his mind before a gun can be fired. Henry’s a good antagonist though and I don’t mind him escaping as he would be good for a sequel as well. I already mentioned how Victor is the best character in the film so I don’t really need to elaborate. He’s just a very great villain.

You’ve also got the Chinese faction who have a few good fighters. The twins both use sonic vibrations to fight. They take their glasses off every time so I’m thinking the power stems from their eyes or they don’t want to shatter the glasses while shouting because that could be quite lethal. They make for good mini bosses. They wouldn’t be much of a threat to the strongest fighters, but can handle the humans just fine. It’s hard to mind control them when you can’t focus through all the yelling. They were actually pretty fun. The Father’s more on the boring side as he has the same power and really didn’t think this through. He surrounded the main villains, but only brought normal soldiers with him? At least tell them to shoot on sight instead of just getting mind controlled. The villain pre cog was a good character. She certainly did seem to be more talented than Cassie. Things definitely didn’t work out well for her and that plot ended with quite a bit of plot hax as the future ability just stopped working, but I suppose it’s how it had to be. Maybe the old guy was just able to mask his intent or something.

There are a bunch of other supporting characters as well. All in all, the cast was quite solid. As I mentioned earlier, most of the plots don’t wrap up. The film basically just stops so there is a whole lot more that can be explored here. The film really did a great job of making the actual universe pretty easy to follow along with while also adding in a bunch of new elements. I’d certainly be interested in reading a comic sequel or something if the franchise ever moves further. The film did make its share of mistakes like being a little gritty, having a poor romance, and having some animal violence, but at least made those mistakes as mildly as possible. The visuals are certainly nice and the action scenes are handled really well when they occur. Well, the fight with Kira vs the henchmen seemed to be a bit of a stretch and that was certainly the worst fight, but maybe she was pushing thoughts into his head during the fight causing him to fight sloppy or something.

Overall, Push is a decently solid action film. It’s one that I would actually recommend. It’s one of those films that fell through the cracks so nobody actually knows about it, but it has the production values of a pretty high budget film. The film flies by very quickly and so you won’t get bored. There’s always a lot to take in which works pretty well for keeping the film interesting while still delivering exposition. The only lazy exposition was in the opening credits and I guess the film just wasn’t sure how else to do it. I guess if you’ve got to do an info dump then it’s best to do it early on rather than breaking the flow of the movie later on.

Overall 7/10

Black Panther Review

It’s time to take a look at the next Marvel Cinematic film! Even though we get 2-3 of these a year, it always feels like such a long wait until the next one. This one has been a long time in the making as Black Panther got a lot of fans after his appearance in Civil War. He was definitely a highlight in that film and remains a great lead in this film. The movie does a good job of not letting the jungle limit it and we do get quite a few nice city scenes as well. All told, it’s a solid addition to the MCU and I’d be up for a sequel although I don’t think there is too much more they can do here in Wakanda so a sequel would probably need to take place at one of the other bases.

The film starts with a quick recap of Wakanda history. We then see the previous Black Panther murder a traitor which sets up the main plot. Right after Black Panther is crowned King of Wakanda, another member of royal blood has shown up to take it back. King T’Challa must now learn what it means to be King and if he even wants to rule such unloyal followers. Either way, he has a duty to stop this villain from launching an attack on the rest of the world or Wakanda will face severe retaliation of the Avenging kind.

I had one big fear when walking into this film and that was that the movie would resort to animal violence since part of Wakanda is essentially a jungle. Then just when I thought I was safe, 3 large Rhinos showed up. Fortunately the film went out of its way to ensure that none of them were hurt. Panther trapped one, a second just ran off, and the third one turned good. Once this scene had been played out, I knew that the film was going to be safe. We also mitigate the jungle aspect as most of Wakanda is actually very high tech and sci-fi esque. I definitely enjoy seeing technology and cities the most so this was good for me. I’m still not a fan of any landscape that isn’t a city of some kind or the inside of a high tech facility. Those just make for the best scenes if you ask me.

The best scenes of the film all take place in the city for the most part. The opening fight scene with Klaw and his gang was handled really well. Panther’s new suit made for some good action effects like when he totaled the car. The old suit was bullet proof which is great, but this one does all of that and more. While the suit is shown to have limitations, this should help him keep up with heavy weights like Spider-Man now. In theory, Captain America would probably lose at this point since their fight was already very close and now landing any damage on Black Panther will be very difficult. It’s a really useful power up and with all of the new tech Panther’s sister is coming up with, he is only going to get stronger.

Pretty much all of the hand to hand fights here are really good. The scene where both Panthers are decimating the opposing armies was a nice contrast as they are both way stronger than the rest of the fighters. Of course, that’s why Black Panther needed to hurry and take the other one out since casualties would run high. Even with this, the film does a good job of making the warriors look reasonably strong. I’d personally say that they looked more impressive than the Amazons in Wonder Woman as these seem to know how to fight and wouldn’t get caught off guard by bullets from people right in front of them. The film also corrects one more thing from the WW film. In that title we learn that the Amazons are also hiding in plain sight by having their island just appear as more water. This doesn’t work for obvious reasons. People just fly through there anyway and then the illusion fades. They would get found out in no time. In Black Panther, the illusion is backed up by being an actual country with borders. They have soldiers and weapons deter anyone from approaching. The deception is simply in appearing to be poorer than they actually are. Maybe this will still be a bit of a stretch for some, but it’s much more believable if you ask me.

Black Panther is a very solid character as I mentioned earlier. While his best appearance will likely always be in Civil War as his character was perfect there, he doesn’t really do anything wrong here. Maybe he should have been quicker to throw the villain out or done more to prevent Klaw from escaping, but you can’t expect him to think of every possible contingency. Thanks to the ritual fights forcing Panther to be in human mode, we do see a more vulnerable version of him. His hand to hand skills actually may be under Bucky, Black Widow, and some of the other hand to hand characters in the series as he has trouble with various fighters, but granted, he should always have the Panther serum for future films so it shouldn’t be a problem. He’s still more than proficient as only high level fighters can hope to defeat him. He may be King, but Panther isn’t stuck up or arrogant yet which is good. Part of why he can be annoying in the comics is that he ends up being like Black Bolt at times where he seems completely corrupt with power. I don’t think the films will be going that route.

Ross is a surprisingly great character and was actually my favorite in the film. He’s a very confident CIA agent who doesn’t back down from anyone. His illegal dealings with Klaw may be suspect, but I get the feeling that he was going to double cross the villain. He’s quick on his feet and an ace pilot as well. He’ll certainly be fun to have around for future films and I’m glad that the CIA has at least one really good member. It seems like they’ve been playing second fiddle to SHIELD for a while so it’s time to finally surpass them. Ross doesn’t really have any bad scenes. Another really good character is Panther’s sister Shuri. She recently got to appear in an animated Avengers episode and based on her portrayal there the film’s depiction was also very accurate. She’s a genius with tech and has come up with many great inventions in a short span of time considering that this takes place only around a week after Civil War. Considering that a big threat like Thanos and his army won’t go down to brute force so easily, her tech will come in handy. She’s not afraid to get on the front lines as well and is just a very charismatic character the whole time.

Killmonger is the main villain of the film and he’s pretty cool. Even before becoming the Panther Killmonger was a very talented fighter as he racked up kills in many different countries. It was interesting to see how he was an undercover agent for the CIA who managed to use the heroes and villains until he finally got into Wakanda. To an extent I do have to question how he knew so much about Wakanda though. He knew about the traditions and seemed just very well aware of the culture in general. We can assume he found the location from the book and since his father was okay with him finding it, maybe that’s when he learned everything. Maybe the book was also just very detailed. Getting Klaw was easy enough since it was relatively common knowledge that he was the one who broke into Wakanda the first time. Killmonger does continue the Marvel tradition of having a villain who has the same abilities as the main hero as he and T’Challa are essentially copies of each other, but that doesn’t really matter to me all that much as long as the fights are good and they were here.

I didn’t care for Klaw though. He’s just not my kind of villain and seems to just get lucky all the time. He’s just a normal guy with a sonic cannon and he isn’t even all that fit. I don’t know how he escaped for this long, but it definitely seems like a stretch. He’s wanted by basically every powerful person on the planet so where can he possibly hide? Well, his plot seems to have finally wrapped up here and I won’t miss him. Okoye was a good member of the Wakanda special forces and is certainly one of their best fighters. Her best combat appearance is probably in the club where she beats up quite a few special agents, but she also puts up a reasonable fight against Killmonger. At that point, tech just beats talent, but otherwise I don’t see any Wakandan fighter beating her in a fair battle.

W’Kabi is a pretty terrible character. I can’t say much about him, but you’ll probably know where his character is heading right from the start. It’s similar to a character beat we saw from Doctor Strange only this one is probably more petty. There’s definitely no saving this character. Nakia is a decent character. She doesn’t get much to do and is overshadowed by the others, but isn’t bad. I do wish we could have avoided the token romance which doesn’t add anything to the film and just seems to be filler, but I guess it wasn’t given much of a focus so it could have been a whole lot worse. Nakia’s Tron Discs were cool though. Between that and the Energy Cannons, we had quite a lot of good weapons that have a lot of potential for future films. She just need a hoverboard or air boots to help her maneuver quicker. Baku’s a fun character s well. He definitely has a strong sense of honor and will repay his debts. When he accepted his defeat gracefully without trying any cheap tricks I had a feeling that he would be a good character. He also has a point that Killmonger beat Black Panther in a fair fight so calling it murder was a little drastic. Blame the outdated ritual system, not the player. Baku made the right decision in the end though and really came through for the heroes.

It can be hard to feel bad for Wakanda when they have such poor traditions though. Why should Black Panther have to fight to be king anyway? I guess it’s to give the other tribes a way to be King, but since it will just cause tensions and potentially get them to split again it doesn’t really seem to be practical. I’m pretty sure T’Challa learned his lesson with that though and probably abolished that rule very quickly. Also, the fact that it’s possible to suffocate underneath the dirt they throw on your for the ceremony is another part where you have to shake your head. What’s with all of these unnecessary risks? Killmonger may not have done it for the right reasons, but at least thanks to him these traditions are probably gone as well. On a side note, I was wondering where Bucky and Captain America were hiding the whole time, but I guess getting involved in this fight would have just made things more complicated. Panther could have certainly used some backup, but it all worked out.

I really enjoyed the soundtrack here. I didn’t care much for the Lion King themes or the tribe tradition music, but a lot of the tunes were surprisingly techno/electronic. It seems like this theme would pop up whenever the villain showed up and basically for any action scene. Good music makes the whole presentation that much better and it definitely worked really well here. I’d say that as far as MCU soundtracks go this would definitely be in the top half. The visuals are also really good. I do like the purple energy that the suit gets from taking a hit and the metallic invention room that the sister uses looks cool. It’s a pretty nice set up for sure. The writing is also solid as you’d expect. The one liners between the characters are usually pretty solid. Killmonger adding a more modern/slang spin to Wakanda was also rather nice. He acts as a bridge between the new and old ways to an extent.

The film does have some of the weakest after credit scenes though. The first one just feels like it should have been the actual ending. It’s not really teasing a lot considering you knew this was where Panther was going with the idea. It’s not a bad scene, but it’s not really much of a stinger either. The second scene is far worse as it is showing us something that we’ve already known. It isn’t even a good character that we see and is just rather boring. You could feel the theater letting out a sigh as we waited for something else to show up and then the clip ended. These scenes are just bonus so they can’t hurt a film at all, but I was still hoping for something a little more hype.

So where do all of the Avengers stack up power-wise now? I’d list the rankings as 1. Thor 2. Hulk 3. Dr. Strange 4. Spider-Man 5. Iron Man 6. Vision 7. Black Panther 8. Captain America 9. Scarlet Witch 10. Black Widow 11. Ant Man 12. Hawkeye. For now I’m not counting the Guardians or the helpers like War Machine and Valkyrie, but I’ll do a more complete list for Infinity War. The suit was definitely enough for Panther to finally pass Cap. Strange could potentially pass Hulk depending on how powerful his magic is in Infinity War and by the same token Vision could drop behind Panther and Cap if he looks really bad without his Gem. Some of these matchups are pretty close so a power up can make all the difference.

Overall, Black Panther is a fun and engaging film. It’s pretty fast paced for the most part so it comes across as very exciting the first time around. I do think it will lack in replay value to an extent because some of the dialogue will likely drag on the second time around along with the flashbacks. When the action is happening the film is at its best but we do get some reasonably long breaks in between the action like getting Panther back into fighting shape and having the council of Wakanda chat about things. The writing is strong though and the cast is good though so it’s certainly a movie that I’d recommend to everyone. It’s good to see another Marvel hero get a stand alone film and we are one step closer to Avengers Infinity War now. I have high hopes for that film and am fully expecting it to be one of the best MCU films yet. There are just so many good ways that the film can play this out that I have to assume they will choose one of them. It’ll be cool to see Panther lend his might to the team as well. Only a few short months left.

Overall 7/10

Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo Review

The animal based horror films continue as we get to see what the spiders can do this time around. I can confirm that they have the upper hand on the humans as expected. However, the film does rely a lot on your suspense for disbelief once again. Spiders are certainly more intimidating than ants, but still within reason. It’s about what you’d expect which at least means that the film lived up to the premise as best it could. It simply couldn’t rise above and beyond it.

The film starts off with two aspiring entrepreneurs trying to get coffee out of the country. They realized that they could get rich from it, but the problem is that the corrupt government officials want a bribe first. The two guys get the money by smuggling some people out of the country, but what they didn’t count on were a few extra stowaways in the form of spiders. These spiders murder the crew and crash land the plane over by the real main characters. Charles and Cindy were looking forward to having a nice vacation when the crash happens and they quickly go investigate. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that it is related to spiders for quite a long while.

It’s pretty straight forward as the spiders start murdering everybody as they head for the orange farm. See, what makes the situation very tough for the heroes is that the town isn’t very well off. It’s actually quite poor and the only thing that keeps the society okay is the fact that they sell off their oranges at great prices. That’s why the mayor has decided that nobody is going to mess with the crop. He will have the town’s citizens/slaves work on it day and night even though they may get bitten by the spider and then die. The poison in this film is shown to be so lethal that you are dead in under a minute so at least it’s very quick. The Mayor is corporate to the core and does a good job of keeping everyone out of his way. Even when the crash first happens he refuses to use any of his water so the fire chief has to handle it. You can’t say that this guy isn’t consistent. As much as the other characters don’t like him, they still have to admit that he has some points. If the crop spoils then the whole town is doomed just as much as if the spiders got to them. They just can’t be too extreme either so it’s a tough balance.

The film would have largely been avoided if not for one very forced scene near the beginning. So, the plane has crashed and it’s leaking gasoline. The fire chief and his men have the situation under control but then a biker dude shows up and decides to play a game of chicken with the plan. He loses of course and crashes the bike into the gas which blows everything up and gives the spiders a chance to escape. You’re just wondering quite a bit what that guy was thinking and why he would lose control so easily. I guess it’s the only way that the spiders could escape but you have to question how smart this town is. Even Charles and Cindy don’t seem like responsible characters since they were going to go on vacation during work hours so any pilot in the area would have been doomed. Not very professional if you ask me.

The film also got a little darker than I thought it would be with the deaths as a kid actually doesn’t make it through this experience. Based on how long he lived after the bite I expected it to be a false alarm, but the film actually went all the way. The kid was a really bad character but it’s still not a fate you would hope for. He knew that the spiders were poisonous so he shouldn’t have tried to grab one with his bare hands. What was he thinking? That’s just not a very good idea on his part and he ended up paying the price for his mistake.

The climax of the film has a forced moment much like the beginning. So, there’s this minor subplot that comes out of nowhere and has no bearing on the film where a girl is cheating on the main police officer with another guy and then she dies. Well, the rebound guy decides to avenge her by blowing up the orange plant and all of the spiders inside of it. The only problem is that he trips multiple times until he finally lands in the middle of the factory and shuts off the power to the whole place so now everyone is stuck with the spiders. That whole sequence just made no real sense. I can buy into the factory being completely electronic so if the power goes off then you’re toast, but it is still a minor stretch since you would usually expect to have some kind of manual override system in place. I guess Mr. Corporate just didn’t figure he would need one and decided to cut down on costs.

I do think the humans should have more confidence once inside though. They have the high ground and are armed with gloves. They can just start punching and kicking rapidly. The important thing is to move quickly and to avoid having any of them over you. Follow those steps and you should really be quite fine. The very ending of the film will also make you shake your head since the main characters basically ditch everyone. Based on the numerous spiders in the facility, I doubt they made it by 8:00 clock so the place likely fell into bankruptcy. It’s rough, but trying to cheat the health regulations just doesn’t pay off.

The film doesn’t really go for too much shock value or violence which is nice. It’s not quite as plot convenient as Ants either where they had hundreds of chances to escape. It’s still not really a good film though. We get some spider violence like where someone crushes one and a kid keeps poking one. The only real highlight of the film is that the cast of characters is a little better than I expected they would be. At the very least I liked the Fire Chief, Charles, and the Mayor. Some characters were essentially filler and didn’t need to be around like Mr. Rich. The scientist was also fairly reasonable as he at least figured out that they died of poison pretty quickly. Based on how swelled up the first bite we saw was though, I don’t know how nobody else noticed this.

Overall, Tarantulas plays it by the books. The Spiders take over the town with frightening speed and you’re left to wonder how 3 spiders became around 300 so quickly. I guess they breed and insects/small creatures do tend to breed very quickly, but isn’t this stretching it? I suppose that I don’t really know one way or the other. If you like the ideas of animals vs people then this is the film for you. There are a lot of films about the food chain trying to change and all, but I’d say this is probably one of the better examples of it. I’m not really a fan of the genre by nature, but considering that then this one wasn’t too bad. If you want a giant animal though, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

Overall 4/10

Hang Em High Review

I haven’t seen many Westerns over the years. In fact, this is likely the second true Western that I’ve seen when you don’t count titles that aren’t primarily in the genre. It’s definitely an interesting genre but one that is immensely difficult to succeed in due to the nature of the era. It was a lawless time with a lot of violence and bandits running around. The times were also primitive which runs the risk of animal violence and people messing around with one night stands. This film does get tripped up in those details but at least it’s a fairly fun adventure. I won’t call it a good movie, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

It doesn’t waste any time in setting up the plot as it starts with the Jed getting attacked by a group of guys on horseback who decide to hang him. They do think that he murdered someone and he doesn’t make a great case against it, but naturally taking the law into your hands isn’t the answer. Especially in this case as they decide to beat him before the hanging. Jed is rescued by someone who takes him to get publicly hanged, but then the sheriff clears up the misunderstanding and finds out that the main character was actually a cop. It was a rather painful misunderstanding but I imagine it may have been common back in the day. Jet is given an opportunity to be a marshal so he can legally get revenge on his attackers. The only clause in the contract is that he has to bring them in alive and naturally he has to deal with other crimes as well. Jed agrees to the terms but may have bitten off more than he can chew with this assignment.

While the opening scene gave me some hope as the main character saved a baby cow, the film later went back on this as we see a few dead animals. A dog also meets a similar fate. These scenes contributed nothing to the plot by the way. It was added simply to be there and that’s the problem. Many scenes like this are added with no real purpose or point to add to the story and it’s because the film makers don’t see anything wrong with it. It has cost many films a good score and doesn’t help this one’s case.

The plot of the film is simple enough. Jed has to take down 9 attempted murderers who are on the run. The problem is that the film then realized that it needed to stretch this adventure out to around 2 hours so they added a bunch of filler plots that take away from the mission. The film should have just stayed on task even if it meant being a little shorter. The padding only weakens the film even if the concept isn’t half bad. Becoming a marshal just to get revenge is something I can certainly imagine happening.

Jed is a solid lead who gets the job done. He may have lost the opening fight but he was badly outnumbered and wasn’t even expecting to be attacked since he thought they were fellow fighters on the side of justice. That being said, you shouldn’t really trust anyone in the Wild West. Once he is given the badge Jed has the edge on all of his attackers. He isn’t afraid to be alone with the prisoners as he transports them back to camp and isn’t intimidated by anyone either. He’ll speak his mind in any situation and is also a quick shot.

While the main character was solid for the most part, he does randomly have a scene where he becomes a typical lead who loses sight of his goal and gives in to a one night stand instead of getting back to the mission. Jed has to lose some points for that moment and it’s little scenes like this where the film loses its credibility. I’d say that I enjoyed the main character overall but take away that scene and he would have basically been perfect.

The film is fairly violent so keep that in mind while watching it. The opening scene should tip you off to that as they hang Jed in a rather detailed fashion. Fortunately the wound does eventually dry out. Surprisingly the shooting scenes were typically less violent. It’s a violent film, but not really a dark one. For the most part the film does keep a rather upbeat tone. The writing is also pretty solid as the characters make their cases. We even got a court room scene but of course the whole thing was rather rigged so Jed couldn’t do much to stop it the judge from executing the kids. The kids were crooks, but it was a rather minor offense though they did become accessories. It was another tough part of the wild west since it was tough to afford a space in a jail for someone to be kept for life. Every era has its share of mishaps, but this one definitely had a bunch of them. So at the very least this film isn’t hard to watch. It’s reasonably entertaining and certainly ends up being a film that you would expect of Clint Eastwood. It just brings in the bad with the good.

Overall, This film was fairly decent but just lost sight of its overall plot by the end and should have focused more on catching the 9 offenders. The film even ran out of time by the end with how they quickly rushed the last group of guys together. Throw away some of the subplots and cut down on the time other scenes took and then it would have been better focused. Still, if you like the Wild West genre a lot then this should be a good film for you. It has a tough lead, gunfights, and overall feels like a true western. If the gene isn’t enough to get you excited, then you’re probably better off with a more loose take on the Wild West like Trigun. That film keeps the backdrop while throwing in some Sci-Fi.

Overall 3/10

Dragon Ball FighterZ Review

This game certainly got quite a lot of hype back in the day and I put in the pre-order for it right away. Fighting games are typically excellent and this one was going to be by ArcSys so it already had the seal of quality on it. While we had the Dragon Ball Budokai games back in the day, we never had a really fast paced 2D fighter for the series until now. It lives up to the hype and I’d definitely say that the company put a lot of effort into this title. There are many easter eggs and the dialogue between the fighters for each match is perfect. There’s a lot to praise here so lets start the review.

The game has 3 Story Modes, which are all slight variations of each other. What differs is who Terry, the spirit of unimaginable power, inhabits to start the game. The main story has him go with Goku so I’ll mostly talk about that plot. The world has been overrun by dark copies of all Earth’s greatest fighters and unfortunately the heroes are unable to access their power. This is because someone has activated a machine which is disrupting their Ki. Until they can find a way to fix this problem, the heroes need Terry to possess them and fight on their behalf. Terry is glad to do it, but will he be strong enough to save the world? The mysterious Android 21 is on the loose and she won’t make it easy. Her abilities put her on a whole other level of power.

I enjoyed the story and it definitely had a lot of potential. I do think that adding Terry was unnecessary. I like having an original character that you play as when they actually appear like in Sonic Forces. When you never actually see them like in this game then it just feels a little tacked on. It’s not as if taking him out of the game would have actually changed anything. I also do have to criticize the fact that we effectively end up playing the same story 3 times. Each story has around 40 battles so they’re decently long and that could have given the title more time for What Ifs or maybe an adaption of the show. While each story has different details and the last one is implied to be the true story, they all contradict each other so I guess you can decide which story you want to be canon.

Whether there was potential lost there or not, it was a fun story to get through. I only have 2 other gripes with it and they’re relatively minor. One is that the cutscenes are constructed in an odd way where some will auto play and others you have to press X to move on. There’s no way to distinguish between most of them so you either have to wait a second to see if it keeps on going or just hit X and risk missing a line. It’s just a rather odd design choice. Especially since some cutscenes take away the X symbol so you know they’ll auto play. Others just keep it in. Finally, they get rid of the cool fighter quotes before each battle in Story Mode which is unfortunate since they’re so fun. I spent most of my time in Story Mode so I didn’t get to see the quotes until later.

The gameplay is naturally excellent as it pulls off the 3 on 3 team mechanics rather well. Like most team games, they make sure to scale the damage so you don’t have to worry about getting hit with an endless combo that takes away all your health. You can land combos that last for around 10-15 seconds, but the more hits you do in a row, the less damage they’ll do. An 80 hit combo can potentially deal less damage than a 10 hit one so you want to choose your moves carefully. It’s typically better to mix in a level 1 special attack after a combo than a level 3 as it will actually deal more damage. Of course, it’s always good to keep a Level 3 in the pocket since it grants you temporary invincibility and can be used to block an attack.

It’ll be tough for newcomers since there are a lot of cheesy tactics you can pull off like spamming the Kamehameha. It can be difficult to get around that, especially if the opponent knows what he’s doing. Still, there are numerous options and combos at your disposal so as long as you really practice and learn your character you will be fine. Unfortunately the online has been having significant problems so you’ll have too practice as lot against computers as they fix that up. The characters all feel rather unique in their playstyles. Due to the nature of the game a lot of the standard combos may feel the same, but the diversification happens once you start using the specials or learning advanced combos.

There is a training mode in the game which is pretty helpful. You can learn a lot of basic combos as well as advanced ones that will help you quite a lot. There is also the classic Arcade Mode which is useful for earning trophies and money. The replay value here is essentially infinite which goes without saying. Unfortunately the developers may have taken that literally as one trophy requires you to earn 20 million zenny. To put that in perspective, I haven’t even earned 1 million yet and I’m only close because of a lot of one time bonuses for beating the stories. Getting to 20 million can end up taking you around 180 hours. You’ll probably play that long in no time without getting bored, but you’ll probably want to be playing online, not grinding a specific story battle for that many times. I likely won’t be getting the Platinum here, but it’s not too crazy. It’s just more of a grind than anything else.

The graphics here are top notch. It really does look like an anime as you play through the game. You even adjust the graphics to make the game look like the retro Super Dragon Ball Z. I don’t think I could ever sacrifice the nice HD images though. The final smashes are especially satisfying and likewise with the intros. Goku Black’s is a nice homage to his original appearance in the anime and seeing Goku and Vegeta’s are always classic. This is certainly a game that the developers took a lot of time and patience with to get everything right. I can’t stress enough how every part of the game feels extremely polished. This takes the PS4’s graphics to the limits and will likely hold up well against PS5 games when that console ends up coming out.

I also enjoyed the soundtrack although I can’t offer it the same 10 star praise as the graphics. There are some catchy tunes here and they are memorable but overall the music selection isn’t all that large. I may be spoiled from how many themes are in Super Smash though and since the themes are good it’s not like I’ll mind listening to them too often. I’ll barely even hear the music when I’m in the middle of a really intense fight. I just won’t have time to think about it.

If I had to mention a small negative, it’s that the character roster is rather small. The size may have been necessary in order to have time to make the game without rushing it, but then I have to question some of the choices. Why is Nappa playable? There are many other villains that I would have gone with instead like Broly, Cooler, or even some of the newer characters like Jiren or Toppo? I’m assuming they added Nappa because they wanted more villains so that’s why I only listed villains here. For heroes I could make the same argument. I understand Krillin making it in and I suppose even Tien, but Yamcha absolutely could have been substituted for someone like Android 17. Android 17 is probably the biggest oversight from the heroes and he definitely deserves to be in the game considering his big role in the story. I may not be thrilled with the roster, but at the same time they have enough good characters to keep me happy. I was pleasantly surprised to have Hit and Goku Black in the game so that was really cool. There are some rumors about which characters will be DLC. Broly will definitely be super hype. I can’t be as hyped for base Goku and Vegeta, but then at least I can make a triple Vegeta team as well so that’ll be cool I suppose.

As for the new Android 21, she’s a pretty cool character. While I’m not crazy about her as a hero, her villain side is easily one of the cooler DBZ villains. She has a great design and her abilities are quite intense as well. The villain theme in the game works perfectly with all of her scenes. She’s deranged enough to make for some intense scenes while not going overboard and losing sight of her goals either. Based on how the game stories end you could make the case that she ends up being Hit or Goku Black level by the end but it depends on just how much you believe the heroes got their full power back. Since this arc likely takes place a little before the final arc of Super, everyone should be crazy strong here. If this game gets a sequel, I’d definitely want the evil 21 to show up again.

Overall, Dragon Ball FighterZ lives up to the hype and then some. The gameplay is absolutely phenomenal and this is one of the most polished games I have ever seen. I don’t know how long it was in development but it must have been quite a while to get it to play, sound, and look so good. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is definitely the best fighting game on the PS4 and now I’m even more hyped for the upcoming Cross Tag Battle game. FighterZ is one of those titles that will stay relevant for quite a long time and I look forward to taking on some online opponents at some point in the future. Time to bring out my Triple Goku team!

Overall 9/10

Kingdom Hearts II Review

This is another manga where I got to start it a long time ago, but didn’t finish until recently. The manga needed a remake for the ending to finally make it to America. Well, it’s definitely a pretty fun adaption. It doesn’t do much to go above and beyond what it was given from the game, but still puts a good amount of effort into it, making this a solid manga to read whether you’ve played the game or not.

The plot actually begins with Roxas since due to the ending of Chain of Memories Sora is still out of commission. Roxas gets to enjoy a few days with his friends, but quickly finds out that his destiny is a sad one as he must fight his way to Sora only to give his body up and fade away as a Nobody once more. A Nobody is a character who is a literal shadow f the main body and while Roxas can keep his soul, he loses his heart. The process is rather intricate, but the long and short of it is that Roxas makes the hard decision to sacrifice his life. We then go back to Sora as he must lead Donald and Goofy on one last mission to take down the evil Organization XIII and save the world. The villains want to use Kingdom Hearts to open the gate between dimensions and I believe this will end up destroying everyone or swapping places with the Nobodies. It’s been a while so I’m not 100% concrete on the details. It doesn’t change the mission of the heroes though and Mickey/Riku, as well as many other fighters are doing their parts to stop the organization as well.

While the manga can’t get to every single world it does adapt as many of them as possible. As it’s the longest of the Kingdom Heart manga titles, I would expect no less. Kingdom Hearts 358 seemed rather long at last check though, so I’m only fairly certain that II is still the longest. It gives you a good amount of time to get used to the characters and see the universe as opposed to jumping from fight to fight like in many adaptions. Although, that is a really good tactic to use as well if we’re being honest. The manga is certainly a direct continuation to the others though so I would recommend checking them out before reading this one. I’m fairly certain that it will help you enjoy this one more.

The art isn’t bad. When the manga goes for its action scenes it can get quite detailed. Not in a convoluted way, but in a way that enhances the action. Sora’s rage mode is depicted well towards the climax when he believes that his friends were murdered. On the other side, the manga does rely a little too much on exaggerated facial expressions for the gags. A tense scene will suddenly turn into a comic relief moment at the drop of a hat. I think the game did a better job at separating the comedic and tense moments and never being too over the top with the comedy. While those artistic moments aren’t my thing, it’s not a case of the art being bad. It’s probably one of the better manga adaptions when it comes to art.

My only real negative with the series is what I mentioned in the art section right above this. The big jumps from comedy to serious to comedy again can be a bit jarring. I think the manga probably goes a little overboard on the comedy instead of being more subtle. Still, that’s basically it and when that’s your only negative you know that the title is pretty good. The series ends with a mild cliffhanger as the heroes are called away to the castle for some reason, but you could also interpret it as just the manga’s way of saying that a hero’s journey is never over. I barely count cliffhangers like that myself for this reason.

Sora is still a solid protagonist as always and I do like him more here than in the original Kingdom Hearts. Sora is a lot more confident in his abilities at this point in time and has proven himself on many occasions. He can definitely fight with the best of them now and his new costume is cool as well. His final team up battle with Riku is definitely a lot of fun and it’s a fight that the original Sora would probably have had a lot of trouble with. Riku’s role here is certainly not as shady as in the original game since by this point he has basically mastered the powers of light and dark. If you think about it, it makes sense that he would be one of the strongest characters in the series. It’s rare to wield both elements.

Most of Organization XIII shows up here and many meet their demise which basically closes this chapter of the series. They all have their own unique personalities which is good. The best member is probably Xehanort. He has a great design and can fight really well too. I also liked the member with the blue hair (Vexen I believe) and Axel isn’t bad either although he can be a little wishy washy. The group definitely has a lot of real characters in their ranks.

As far as the Disney characters are concerned, they all appear to be in character. Even though the crossover is mainly with the Disney characters, I admit that I look forward to the Final Fantasy ones more anyway. Unfortunately I don’t think they actually keep in the Cloud vs Sephiroth fight, but it’s possible that I just don’t remember it. It’s been a long time since I read the first few volumes of the series after all. It’s still hard to believe it went on for a full 9 volumes before being re released in the omnibus format. So while I don’t mention the Disney characters much, their inclusion definitely makes the series even more fun. Who doesn’t know the classic Disney characters like The Beauty and The Beast? While I can’t really take them seriously in a fight against the Organization characters, I suppose they’re tough enough for the Heartless. It’s always good to see a familiar face among the characters and hopefully for Kingdom Hearts III we finally get the big team up with all of the old Disney and FF characters for a big climactic battle.

Overall, This is definitely a fun manga. It’s got a good amount of action and a good cast of characters. I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It’s probably the best of the Kingdom Heart manga titles although Chain of Memories puts up a good fight. I always really liked that game/manga. It was short, but had a bunch of fights. It’s similar to the Battle Frontier in the Pokemon anime. Still, with the extra volumes Kingdom Hearts II definitely had more time for a lot to happen. Reading all of the different titles back to back would probably be fun. It’ll be tough for 358/2 to top this one, but I’m looking forward to seeing it try its best!

Overall 7/10